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How to take It global

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In the competitive world of IT, forming relationships with international partners could be integral for success, particularly in light of our uncertain local business ecosystem, says redPanda Software’s, GM, LEON COETZER.

In a local business ecosystem that is fraught with both political and economic uncertainty, companies are under pressure to innovate and expand with few resources. For many SA businesses, and particularly those in the fast moving and highly competitive world of IT, forming strong international partnerships is a savvy – but difficult – way of injecting new energy and IP into local operations. But for those who can get it right, the short and long-term benefits are numerous. 
 
“Securing an international contract and solid partnership requires a great deal of research, due diligence, and internal transformation,” explains Leon Coetzer, General Manager of local enterprise software development firm redPanda Software. 
 
The Cape Town-based firm has partnered with PCMS, a UK-based technology retail provider and a worldwide leader in its field. The multinational group was looking to establish a local centre of excellence in software development in South Africa, and their research led them to redPanda Software. 
 
“In our case, the ‘courtship’ process took close to a year, and both parties got to know each other extraordinarily well from both a business and technical perspective,” adds Coetzer. “Since the contract was secured and the engagement formally started, we have seen a marked increase in interest from both local and global clients.”
 
Internal transformation
 
According to Coetzer, the partnership has resulted in a noticeable internal shift within redPanda Software, with significant changes being made to systems, processes and team management. redPanda Software is now able to draw on global best practices, and to exchange valuable learnings and IP with a renowned specialist.
 
“As a result, we have been able to more clearly define the different roles and responsibilities within the company and its structures, and to have the right combination of talent within our teams,” he says. “For employees, the international partnership also brings with it exciting new opportunities, added personal development and greater visibility in the IT sector worldwide.”
 
Besides the operational, cultural and reputational gains that the partnership has brought, Coetzer notes that the financial gains could be significant – albeit hard won. He cautions against viewing earning foreign currency as simple and a ‘get rich quick strategy’, primarily because it brings with it many hidden costs as well as administrative challenges. 
 
“The volatility of exchange rates can certainly eat into profit margins,” says Coetzer. “Also, transparent and clear negotiations upfront can go a long way in ensuring the success of a partnership with global companies.”
 
True job creation
 
In his view, the foreign currency benefits pale in importance when one considers that true job creation is taking place. 
 
“We are not simply moving people between companies, we are (through this contract) creating exciting new work opportunities for local talent, while simultaneously growing and enriching the local IT industry,” he adds. “South Africa has a pool of immensely talented and ambitious technology and IT professionals, and we are committed to developing and supporting local talent in every way possible.”

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Wannacry still alive

One and a half years after its epidemic, WannaCry ransomware tops the list of the most widespread cryptor families and the ransomware has attacked 74,621 unique users worldwide.

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These attacks accounted for 28.72% of all users targeted by cryptors in Q3 2018. The percentage has risen over the last year, demonstrating more than two thirds growth against Q3 2017, when its share in cryptor attacks was 16.78%. This is just one of the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q3 IT threat evolution report. 

A series of cyberattacks with WannaCry cryptor occurred in May 2017 and is still considered to be one of the biggest ransomware epidemics in history. Even though Windows released a patch for its operating system to close the vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue 2 months prior to the start of the attacks, WannaCry still affected hundreds of thousands devices around the globe. As cryptors do, WannaCry turned files on victims’ computers into encrypted data and demanded ransom for decryption keys (created by threat actors to decipher the files and transform them back into the original data) making it impossible to operate the infected device.

The consequences of the WannaCry epidemic were devastating: as the victims were mainly organisations with networked systems – the work of businesses, factories and hospitals was paralysed. Even though this case demonstrated the dangers cryptors pose, and most of PCs around the world have been updated to resist the EternalBlue exploit, the statistics show that criminals still try to exploit those computers that weren’t patched and there are still plenty of them around the globe.

Overall, Kaspersky Lab security solution protected 259,867 unique users from cryptors attacks, showing a substantial rise of 39% since Q2 2018, when the figure was 158,921. The growth was rapid yet steady, with a monthly observed increase in the number of users.

The rising share of WannaCry attacks is another reminder that epidemics don’t end as fast as they start – there are always long-running consequences. In the case of cryptors, attacks can be so severe that it is necessary to take preventive measures and patch the device, rather than deal with encrypted files later,” said Fedor Sinitsyn, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

 To reduce the risk of infection by WannaCry and other cryptors, users are advised to:

  • Always update your operating system to eliminate recent vulnerabilities and use a robust security solution with updated databases. It is also important to use the security solution that has specialised technologies to protect your data from ransomware, as Kaspersky Lab’s solutions do. Even if the newest yet unknown malware does manage to sneak through, Kaspersky Lab’s System Watcher technology is able to block and roll back all malicious changes made on a device, including the encryption of files.
  • If you have bad luck and all your files are encrypted with cryptomalware, it is not recommended to pay cybercriminals, as it encourages them to continue their dirty business and infect more people’s devices. It is better to find a decryptor on the Internet – some of them are available for free here: https://noransom.kaspersky.com/

·         It is also important to always have fresh backup copies of your files to be able to replace them in case they are lost (e.g. due to malware or a broken device), and store them not only on the physical object but also in cloud storage for greater reliability (don’t forget to protect your cloud storage with strong hack-proof password!)

·         If you’re a business, enhance your preferred third-party security solution with the newest version of the free Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool.

·         To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees and IT teams, keep sensitive data separate, restrict access, and always back up everything.

·         Use a dedicated security solution, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business that is powered by behaviour detection and able to roll back malicious actions. It should also include Vulnerability and Patch management features that automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and installs updates. This reduces the risk of vulnerabilities in popular software being used by cybercriminals.

·         Last, but not least, remember that ransomware is a criminal offence. You shouldn’t pay. If you become a victim, report it to your local law enforcement agency.

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Nokia 6.1 gets slice of Pie

HMD Global has announced that the Nokia 6.1 will start receiving Android 9 Pie – the second smartphone in the portfolio to receive the latest version of Android less than a month after the update arrived on the Nokia 7 plus.

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Packed with Google’s newest software and building on the features of Android 8.0 Oreo, Android 9 Pie’s focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning gives owners a more customised and tailored experience.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 Mobile Platform, the Nokia 6.1 is over 60% faster than its predecessor. Also, now offering enhanced Dual-Sight, ZEISS optics, USB-C fast-charging, Nokia spatial audio and pure, secure and up-to-date Android Oreo.

The Nokia 6.1 has been selected by Google to join the Android One family and therefore users get exclusive access to Apps Actions – a feature only available to Android One and Google Pixel devices.  App Actions helps users get things done faster by predicting their next move and displaying the right action on right away.

Now with Android 9 Pie, the Nokia 6.1’s already impressive battery life is further complimented with the introduction of Adaptive Battery, an update that uses deep learning to understand usage patterns and prioritise battery power on the most important apps.

Other key features of Android 9

·       Slices – Identifies relevant information on favourite apps to make them more easily accessible when needed

·       Adaptive Brightness – Automatically adapts phone brightness by learning from interactions with different settings

·       New system navigation – Features a single home button that provides intelligent predictions and suggestions (user enabled)

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